Research Center

Improving Voter Participation: Oregon Challenges and Opportunities

Executive Summary

 

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Introduction

 


The 2008 election saw an exciting upswing in national voter turnout, especially among some Americans historically underrepresented in our electoral system. Turnout, however, still hasn't returned to the modern-era highs of the 1960's. Oregon's voter turnout in 2008 was also not a record high and there are still significant registration gaps in our state. This was also an election that revealed serious problems in the infrastructure of American democracy that affect our ability to maintain gains in voter participation, build on past successes and explore new options. "A closer look reveals that serious problems with the infrastructure of American democracy remain. Topping the list is voter registration, which turned out to be the election administration problem of 2008." [1]

 

This report discusses a wide range of Oregon-specific options to facilitate voter registration, keep Oregonians accurately registered, make elections meaningful and expand opportunities for providing more information for voters. Multiple actions to improve voter participation are justified by the goals that underlie this report: that democracy is best served by an engaged populace and robust voter participation.

 

Section 1 – Background and History

 

Political science research indicates that people vote for a variety of reasons. Voting increases when there's a greater probability of affecting the outcome. The 1996 election had the lowest turnout since 1924 because most voters knew that Bill Clinton would easily defeat Bob Dole. Competitive races usually mean more intensive mobilization efforts by the campaigns, but the meaningfulness of an election typically increases turnout even in areas not targeted by campaigns. People also vote out of desire to improve the well being of others and as an opportunity for political expressiveness. Research also identifies that voting behavior is an acquired habit with turnout linked to the extent to which development of this habit is fostered.

 

FIGURE 1

VRP= Voter Registered Population

VEP= Voter Eligible Population



As illustrated above in Figure 1, large numbers of Oregonians exercise their right to vote once registered but many are not registered and turnout rates based as a percent of eligible voters are lower. In the 2008 general election, 85.7 percent of total registered voters cast ballots. Calculations based on voting age population or eligible voting population that includes overseas voters and excludes prisoners; however, produce much lower results – 63.2 percent and 66 percent respectively for 2008. These differences are significant because, although Oregonians, once registered, turn out at a higher rate than in most other states, significant numbers of Oregonians aren't registered to vote. In 2008, for example, 642, 296 Oregonians within the voting eligible population were unregistered.

 

There is also youth vote gap with turnout by Oregonians between 18 and 29 consistently lower than voter participation by those 30 or above. (See Figure 2.) This gap declined in 2008, in part due to a turnout decline by older Oregonians.

 

 

FIGURE 2

 

 

There is also a voter registration gap for Latino voters in Oregon. As illustrated below in Figure 3, in 2004 unregistered Latinos comprised 48.1 percent of that community's voting-eligible population while this figure was only 16.2 percent for the state as a whole. In 2005 these percentages were 41.4 percent unregistered Latinos compared with 24.8 percent unregistered out of the statewide voting-eligible population.

 

More assessment is needed regarding the voter registration status of Oregon's naturalized citizen community. The League of Women Voters offers voter registration at naturalization ceremonies, particularly in the Portland area. But how many members of this group are still not registered is difficult to determine. The total size of this community is indicated by 2007 figures that there are 73,465 naturalized citizens in the pool of civilian employed workers, age 16 and above, in Oregon.2


Overall those who vote tend to be white, more affluent, better educated, older and longer in residence than those who don't vote. Research indicates that nonvoters do not necessary share voters perspective and that significant differences exist on class-based issues like government's role in redistributive policies. Even more significant, voter participation – or absence of participation – is an indicator of our electoral system's legitimacy.

As in the case across the country, the expansion of suffrage rights is the historical trend with Oregon ahead on some issues and behind on others. In addition to broadening the right to vote beyond the adult white males identified in the 1857 state constitution, steps forward include moving registration deadlines closer to the day of election, instituting registration by mail, and allowing the legislature to enact voting rights for former felons. Setbacks include 1986's Measure 13 that inserted a 20-day registration deadline into the state constitution.

 

 

FIGURE 3

 

 

Section 2 – Strategies to Improve Voter Participation

 

Overview

Sustaining the arc towards a more robust democracy means pursuing opportunities that increase voter registration and turnout. The former requires the removal of barriers and maintenance of accurate voter rolls while the latter may employ a far wider range of procedural and education strategies, including parallel sets of reforms pertaining to redistricting, media political coverage and campaign finance. No single "silver bullet" exists for attaining this goal. This doesn't make inaction acceptable, but points to the need for multiple reform steps because democracy is best served by an engaged populace and robust participation

 

Increasing Voter Registration

There are three components of voter registration to consider when evaluating opportunities to reduce the gap between eligible and registered voters:

 

  • Increase the ease and accuracy of initial registration;
  • Make registration portable and maintain accuracy of voter rolls through proactive use of address updates;
  • Careful consideration of a shift to an “opt out” instead of “opt in” model of registration;
  • Keep people registered through carefully designed and transparent purge procedures that notify voters and provides opportunities to make corrections.

 

Same Day Registration: The nine states currently using Election Day or same day registration have seen higher voter turnout, particularly among youth and geographically mobile voters, however, socioeconomic gaps persist. Adoption by Oregon would require a constitutional amendment. Our vote by mail system would reduce effectiveness due to lack of convenient precinct polling places close to home, particularly in eastern Oregon. This latter problem might be mitigated by a weeklong same day registration window spreading out the administrative demands but would require adequate funding for county election offices. Nevertheless the pragmatic and political barriers to changing the current registration cutoff 20 days before Election Day point to the need for considering other options, even if the long term goal should be to change the current deadline.

Comprehensive Voter Registration Improvement Program: Also known as Voter Registration Modernization, a comprehensive approach to improving voter registration includes a package of reforms. Another possible name is Streamlined and Accurate Voter Registration or the SAVE program. Or Oregon voters would be VIPs in a Voter Improvement Program. Whatever the label, this package approach would increase accuracy and reduce errors in the voter rolls, eliminating need for duplicative registration effort by voters and likely leading to cost savings. Components of a comprehensive voter registration program would include:

 

  • Portable Registration and Proactive Use of Address Changes: More effective use of the U.S. Post Office’s National Change of Address database, as well as linkage to other government sources like the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or state schools, would provide more accurate updates of voter rolls and reduce accidental purging of eligible voters. The need for this these steps are due to the mobility in our society and the importance of having an accurate address in our vote-by-mail system. In the United States 45 percent of the population moves every five years and as many as one in six Americans move every year.[3] In the three years of operation of the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration (OCVR) database, 74, 82, and 73 percent of all inactive voters were moved to this category in 2006, 2007 and 2008 because an out-of-date address meant that a ballot could not be delivered.[4]

 

  • Proactive Voter Registration Linked with New Government Licenses: New rules for Oregon driver licenses and ID cards could allow for proactive addition of people to the voter registration database. DMV collects signature that could be used for the signature verification step in Oregon's vote by mail system. An "opt out" option must be provided since voter registration is not mandatory. Consideration of an "opt out" approach is feasible since Measure 56 was adopted in November of 2008, reducing the impact of the double majority requirement in tax increase measures. Such a double majority requirement is unique to Oregon. Common Cause Oregon would oppose any effort to return to past double majority requirements because this approach gives inappropriate clout to non-voters.

 

  • Online Voter Registration: The 2009 legislature adopted this option in Oregon with its availability beginning in March 2010 for those Oregonians with DMV licenses. This registration method is facilitating registration in a secure fashion in Washington and Arizona with implementation underway in California. Colorado and Indiana joined Oregon in adopting this registration option in 2009.

 

  • Full Implementation of National Voting Registration Act in Public Assistance AgenciesThe 1993 National Voting Registration Act, known as "motor voter," requires state driver licensing agencies to offer registration opportunities to vote. Another provision requires states provide registration opportunities at public assistance agencies. While Oregon has been recognized for its implementation of this in the past, registration numbers have declined. Additional resources for election training for DMV and public assistance agency staff could reverse this trend.

 

  • Proactive Voter Registration Based on Existing State Databases: Use of other governmental databases to evaluate voting eligibility and addition to voter rolls is another component of a comprehensive voter registration improvement program. While there are valid concerns about civil liberties and the fiscal impacts of effectively integrating voter rolls with existing state databases, these are not insurmountable barriers. Canada has built a list of 23 million eligible voters through this approach. New York and California are both discussing the use of state driver license records and tax records to evaluate voting eligibility and to add to voter registration rolls. Oregon could start with smaller lists like Oregon National Guard members or people leaving custody of Oregon state correctional institutions. Careful design of each element of a proactive voter registration program is very important and resources will be required. For this reason Common Cause Oregon supports the Secretary of State seeking foundation support for a pilot project.

 

  • Pre-Registration and 17-Year-Old Voting: Oregon law currently allows 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, ensuring they receive a ballot when they turn 18 and thereby increasing their likelihood of voting. This could be improved upon by allow pre-registration at age 16, increasing the opportunity for registration to occur in a nonpartisan school setting that could incorporate voter registration with driver training and obtaining a license. Some states permit 17-year-olds to vote in primaries and caucuses, a practice not permitted by Oregon's constitution. Connecticut's success in amending their constitution to provide this option suggests an Oregon-specific review of political feasibility may be warranted.

 

2009 Online Voter Registration an Important Step But More Will be Needed: Online voter registration can serve as a cornerstone for other components of a comprehensive voter registration improvement program. Online voting will provide the opportunity to coordinate the security and legal details needed to share key information from the DMV database such as the electronic signatures needed for vote by mail signature verification. The continued existence of a digital divide, however, makes it necessary to develop other options to facilitate voter registration.

 

Civic Education: The importance of civic education to increase voter registration and instill in young people the habit of voting is critical. The 2009 legislature adopted a bill requiring Oregon school districts to develop a plan to encourage student registration and voting. It identifies opportunities for assistance from the Secretary of State and requires the State Board of Education to include voter registration into Essential Learning Skills. This speaks to the need for school based curriculum improvements on voter registration and voting preparation.

 

There is also a role for non-profit partnerships with schools on voter registration education, such as the League of Women Voters of Oregon's offering mock elections curriculum materials. Participants in a First-Time Voter program, an informal peer program about voting conducted in high schools in Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire and New Jersey, had voter turnout rates 9 percentage points higher than a control group. Common Cause Oregon is exploring the feasibility of a similar program for Oregon schools. Adult civic education also needs to be considered. A focus on naturalized citizens may be appropriate.

Long Term Thinking About Voter Eligibility: Other long-term considerations requiring additional research as to feasibility, cost and effectiveness include:

  • Lowering the voting age;
  • Joining Vermont and Maine as states that allow prisoners to vote;
  • Basing voting eligibility for local elections on residency rather than citizenship as occurred in Oregon from 1857 to 1914 and is currently allowed in several cities in other states.

 

Voter Data Base Maintenance

Once Oregonians are registered every effort should be taken to ensure they remain accurately registered. As stated earlier, this requires: registration portability across county lines; effective use of change of address information to ensure permanent registration; and evaluation of inactive voter registration regulations to ensure database management transparency and precise purges with public notice and easy voter correction. Specific steps include:

  • Inactive Voter Regulation Modifications: Under current Oregon law, moving a registered voter to inactive status is triggered in several ways including not voting or updating registration within the last five years. Current voter roll maintenance issues result in these rules disqualifying eligible voters. Oregon could consider less restrictive inactive voter rules, given changes in double majority rules regarding revenue votes that prompted increased attention on inactive voters.

 

  • Transparent Purge Policies: Dependable, accurate, up-to-date registration lists are important to the integrity of our electoral process. Voter purges that are not carefully conducted, however, pose serious risks to that process. While there is no evidence of inappropriate purge practices in Oregon, list management practices should be evaluated for consistency with recommendations on voter purge procedures recommended by the Brennan Center for Justice.

 

Increasing Voter Turnout

Once an Oregonian is registered to vote and receives a ballot what can be done to increase the likelihood that she or he will take the time to vote? Turnout improvement options begin with removing barriers and include education and increased electoral competition.

 

Removing Turnout Barriers

  • Voter Drop Boxes and Election Office Hour: The minimum requirement for the size and number of official drop boxes, and the frequency of pickup should be continually evaluated. Expanded hours at county elections offices the week before Election Day should be evaluated to ensure voter questions and requests can be addressed, particularly in rural areas.

 

  • Timing and Tone of Drop Off Instead of Mailing Ballot Announcements: Employ effective, timely messages about dropping off rather than mailing ballots. Messages should employ positive tones that encourage voter participation rather than a missed deadline.

 

  • Postage – Cost and Convenience ConcernsWith fewer voters using traditional mail and therefore having less immediate access to stamps, assess feasibility of government-paid postage to remove postage cost and convenience as a barrier. This would only be fiscally feasible if other savings, perhaps related to reducing the cost of Oregon's Voter Pamphlet changes, could be used to offset costs.

 

  • Online Voting: The digital divide and security are critical issues that warrant great caution about this form of voting. The growth of people conducting business online, however, is likely to continue to push this issue to the forefront. Other options, especially to facilitate military and overseas voting, should also be pursued. For example, the 2009 legislature adopted a bill that allows overseas Oregonians to vote by fax with numerous safety safeguards.

 

  • Non-English Voting Materials and Resources for Disabled Voters: Spanish language voting resources are currently available online and expanding this to other languages merits evaluation. Oregon currently provides audio, large print and Braille voting materials for disabled voters. The state has also done pioneering work in developing an Alternative Format Ballot that works with a wide range of adaptive devices for those with visual or manual dexterity impairments. Exploring additional opportunities to meet the voting needs of disabled and non-English speaking voters is a priority.

 

Caging and Vote-by-Mail Require Contact Information for Mailings to Voters: While Oregon's vote by mail system is less vulnerable to "caging tactics" used to challenging voters, there is a need for clear standards for making post-election challenges similar to those enacted by Washington in 2006. Legislation requiring detailed contact information be included on mailings to Oregonians about voter registration could also be considered so that voters will not confuse election division mailings with mailings by private groups.

 

Education on Voting Rights for Ex-Felons: Oregonians are only denied the right to vote while incarcerated. The practice of providing those leaving prison a voter registration card in their exit package should be continued. An education campaign on voting rights information to government workers and non-profit agencies that work with ex-felons is recommended.

 

Increasing Electoral Competition: More competitive elections increase voter turnout because such races are meaningful and entice voter participation, often with encouragement from more intense campaign efforts to get out the vote. Ten battleground states in the November 2008 election experienced a combined turnout 4 percent higher than combined turnout in other states. Although not a battleground state in the general election, the intense Obama-Clinton primary race resulted in high turnout. Options for increasing electoral competition include:

  • Reform the Presidential Primary System: Moving up Oregon's presidential primary date is an option, but it would require a special election. More systemic reform is preferable. There are numerous primary reform proposals. While federal legislation could facilitate change, it appears that for legal reasons political parties are the key reform players.

 

  • National Popular Vote: Common Cause Oregon supports legislation in which compact member states pledge their electoral votes to winner of the national popular vote. A national popular vote can shift candidates' focus from swing states to swing districts in each state. Oregon legislation moved through the House in 2009 but never received a hearing in the Senate.

 

  • Alternative Election Methods: Alternative election methods, particularly fusion voting, instant runoff voting and multi-district members with cumulative voting also deserve consideration for a number of reasons including their potential to increase voter turnout by providing more candidates choices and reducing the spoiler effect. Common Cause Oregon supports fusion voting for partisan legislative and statewide offices dependent upon third party interest and availability of funds for increased educational and implementation costs. The 2009 legislature adopted an option for candidates to accept up to three nominations with multiple parties listed on one ballot line. Sometimes called "fusion light," this bill was adopted in the last hours of the session. Common Cause Oregon also supports legislation enabling local government to employ alternative election methods such as instant runoff voting. Such a bill in 2009 did not move.

 

Two Instead of Four Election Day Options? If voting is a habit, do too frequent elections encourage development the habit of not voting? As one political scientist has written: "One might liken sleepy municipal elections to gateway drugs; by enticing so many people to abstain from voting, they weaken voting habits."[5] Currently Oregon has four options for election days, March, May, September, and November. The May and November elections are most frequently used and this trend should continue due to voter enactment of Measure 56 that applies the double majority requirement for revenue measures to only March and September contests. Retaining the March and September elections, though, provides flexibility for local government and political jurisdictions. This means that reducing from four to two election days options is not likely to reduce election costs or increase turnout, but Common Cause Oregon is open to this idea if election administrators and political jurisdictions in the state are interested.

 

More Information for Voters

  • Voter Pamphlet Evaluation, Cost and Possible Improvements: The cost of the voter pamphlet is justified for the service it provides and increasing fees to the extent that it is self-supporting is inappropriate. However, evaluating its effectiveness is prudent, especially since it is a major expense for the Elections Division. Fees for candidate and measure statements could also be raised and still be an incredibly cost-effective way to get a campaign message to voters. The 2009 legislature made such fee adjustments and the Elections Division plans a survey to evaluate the Voters' Pamphlet in the next election cycle. This will provide valuable information to guide possible changes to the Voters' Pamphlet such as providing more information online. The evaluation will also help evaluate the value of statements prepared by a citizen review process as provided for in a legislatively adopted pilot project for up to three ballot measures in 2010.

 

  • Wikipedia Style Ballot Measure Discussions: Web-based discussion forums through a cooperative effort of state academic institutions and the Secretary of State merits consideration.

 

  • Elections Division Website Improvements: Oregonians already can go online to check their voter registration status. Other possible improvements, within budgetary constraints, include: showing nearby post offices and ballot drop off boxes, ability to generate customized voter pamphlet statements on candidates and measures voter will face, and improved visual design.

 

  • PSA and Other Tools: Possibilities include: public/private public service announcements about registration and voting deadlines, drop box locations, online information and toll free numbers. “Robocalls” could supplement current post card notification system.

 

  • Video Voter: Evaluate feasibility of providing all candidates and ballot measure committees with free television time to view to voters through PEG access cable studios, distribution of videos over cable TV and the internet, and other media. 

 

  • ORESTAR Improvements to Facilitate Following the Money: Provide more background information for public users of ORESTAR not familiar with campaign finance data, with greater ability to compare various data. Also include more helpful listing in voters’ pamphlet.

 

  • Top Contributor Displays: This popular suggestion has serious logistical and legal problems. The best solution may be adding reference to where contributions can be found on campaign materials.

 

  • Beyond ORESTAR – Oregon Project Sunlight: Based on a New York State model, Oregon Project Sunlight would bring together ORESTAR's campaign finance component with existing online record of state senator and representative votes, lobbying expenditure reports and information about government contracts into one online source. Passage of HB 2500 by the 2009 legislature will create a Transparency Oregon website that allows online access to information about government operations. The bill needs to be monitored, however, to ensure that its promise is realized. A Transparency Oregon website could incorporate the campaign finance, lobbying, and legislative votes websites. If not, all these websites should be tied together by an umbrella website that could be called Oregon Project Sunlight. Particularly important is online accountability for state and federal stimulus program spending.

 

Increasing Voter Confidence

Oregon enjoys a commendable history of impartial and effective election administration, however to maintain and increase voter confidence vote-counting accuracy should be assessed and election operations reviewed:

  • Shorten Time Needed for Ballot Counts: To avoid delays and crashes on election night, increase the capacity of the Election Division's website. Avoid delays in calling close elections by having enough tally machines or allowing vote scanning operations to begin earlier. The second approach, with security safeguards, was adopted by the 2009 legislature.


  • Post Election Audits: The 2008 post-election audit conducted showed that vote tally machines counted with close to 100 percent accuracy. While the hand count method employed allows for better tracking of specific machine problems and fraud, it does not provide the degree of count accuracy of the statistical sampling-based polling audit method. Common Cause Oregon supports retaining the current audit program with the improvements adopted by the 2009 legislature that came from a thorough review of the 2008 audit process. We would also support a pilot effort in one or two counties using the polling audit methods. Given state budget difficulties, obtaining foundation support would be probably be necessary, however, for such a pilot effort.

 

  • Review Recount Procedures: Overall, Oregon's recount procedures seem effective as evidenced by the vote recount in Measure 53 in 2008. Recent experiences in the 2006 Washington gubernatorial race and litigation in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race illustrate, however, that it would be prudent to review Oregon's recount procedures.

Parallel Reforms

  • Campaign Finance Reform: Voter participation may be linked to public distrust of politics due to the role of money, leading the voter to feel his vote doesn't matter. Reforming campaign financing is unlikely to affect voter turnout on its own, but opportunities for campaign finance reform and efforts to increase voter participation should be considered complimentary efforts.

  • Media Reform: More and better information for voters is not just the responsibility of government or interest groups. A role should be played by a vibrant and diverse media with a focus on expanding opportunities for local production of independent media, imposing meaningful public interest obligations on the mainstream media, and revitalizing the watchdog role of the FCC. While much is this requires federal action, state opportunities to push national legislation should be pursued.


  • Redistricting: State redrawing of congressional and legislative district boundaries every ten years has become an intensely political process with sophisticated computer and mapping technology allowing the drawing of more precise lines based on a wide range of criteria. Gerrymandering has long been a part of redistricting, sometimes with the goal of increasing representation by minorities, but often with claims of protecting incumbents and providing partisan advantage. Current reform options advanced by Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute, Dr. Michael McDonald of George Mason University and others include changing from single member districts to multi-member districts that reduce the importance of boundaries and the pressure for partisan drawing of lines, improvement of redistricting standards and reforms of redistricting procedures. A full discussion of Oregon's redistricting procedures and possible reforms can be found in the League of Women Voters of Oregon's "Redistricting in Oregon."

Improving Oregon Redistricting in 2011: Educational opportunities to improve redistricting in our state in 2011 include outreach to editorial boards and legislators as well as use of shadow institutions or a public process parallel to the official process as advocated by Heather Gerken of Yale University School of Law. The best terminology for a parallel redistricting commission is still under consideration with public redistricting used here. A Student Redistricting Seminar as an academic partnership is a vehicle for a public redistricting process of particular interest to Common Cause Oregon because it seems to provide more opportunities to provide information and technological resources compared to a citizen jury or competition. These tools may be better suited to review the results of legislative redistricting.



An Improving Oregon Redistricting Project would include the following elements:

  • Conduct educational outreach including editorial board visits to raise the profile of redistricting during their conversations with legislative candidates during the upcoming general election campaign season. Of particular interest is gathering input on how to define communities of interest. – summer and fall 2010.

  • Meetings with legislative leaders and redistricting committee staff on redistricting criteria and upcoming Student Redistricting Seminar. – fall 2010 and winter 2011.

  • Student Redistricting Seminar at an academic institution where student teams will prepare redistricting maps after background information and coaching is provided by guest speakers. In other words, student teams would draw maps parallel to the work of the 2011 legislature. Resources such as redistricting software would be provided. – spring 2011.

  • Monitor legislative and possible Secretary of State redistricting line drawing using maps drawn by Student Redistricting Seminar.– summer 2011.

  • Conduct a post-redistricting review with key opinion leaders. This could take the form of a conference, possibly in partnership with an academic institution. Regardless of the format the goal would be to identify improvements for redistricting in 2021– fall 2011.

This would be an ambitious effort and require foundation support, but Common Cause Oregon is assessing funding options and gathering feedback on this possible project. A particular difficulty facing a public redistricting project is how to gather information to determine communities of interest, particularly during the tight timeline parallel to legislative redistricting with that effort's option of holding hearings. It should be recognized, therefore, that a public redistricting project will not be identical to the official process. Nevertheless a public redistricting project could still be useful in increasing public awareness about this important process.

 

Section 3 –Successes and Next Steps

The major success of the 2009 legislative session was enactment of online or electronic voter registration. Legislation allowing cross-nomination of candidates (subject to acceptance by the candidate) with multiple parties listed on one ballot line was a last minute election reform victory due to the hard work of several minor political parties. Several other bills will facilitate improved election administration such as earlier ballot processing to enable faster vote counts. Legislation was also enacted to facilitate voter registration opportunities for high school students. Also important is that the Elections Division plans to conduct a survey evaluation of the Voters' Pamphlet.

Regarding voter registration improvements, immediate next steps for Common Cause Oregon include consultation with the Secretary of State and county election administrators on rulemaking and/or 2010 legislation to improve use of National Change of Address updates and build on past steps to improve registration portability. Longer-term next steps include conversations with election administrators and ally organizations on tackling the broader package of voter registration improvements. A review of recount procedures, especially rules regarding challenging votes is also planned.

Other legislative opportunities that Common Cause Oregon will consider in 2010 and 2011 include continued advocacy for the National Popular Vote, allowing 16-year olds to pre-register to vote, and rolling back restrictions on voting rights in county jails. The feasibility of any of these options will be reviewed with key ally groups and stakeholders.

Civic education is another Common Cause Oregon priority and we are exploring opportunities for bringing the First-time Voter program to Oregon high schools in partnership with groups focused on increasing political participation by young people. This program development will be aided by work underway between the Secretary of State and Oregon Department of Education about how to incorporate voter registration education into Essential Learning Skills and provide tools for school districts.

Regarding governmental transparency Common Cause Oregon will monitor development of the Oregon Transparency Website mandated by HB 2500 A long-term goal is advocacy of an Oregon Sunlight Project that ties together into a one-step governmental accountability website access to lobbying and campaign contribution data, legislative votes, and governmental contracts.

Improving information for voters is another priority with Common Cause Oregon, which is eager to use the results of the Elections Division's Voters' Pamphlet evaluation in advocating for modifications to that resource and exploring other opportunities to inform voters.

Common Cause Oregon is also exploring opportunities for a public redistricting process to occur within the context of a broader educational effort. A Student Redistricting Seminar is being explored with possible academic partners and is a key element of a potential Improving Oregon Redistricting Project.

 

 

 

 

Organizational Note: Work on this project began with grant support from the Carol and Velma Saling Foundation to Democracy Reform Oregon. Follow up activities described in this document will be done by Common Cause Oregon.



[1] Tokaji, Daniel P. (January 22, 2009) Voter Registration and Institutional Reform: Lessons from a Historic Election. Vol. 3 Harvard Law and Policy Review Online. Retrieved January 23, 2009 from http://www.hlpronline.com/Tokaji_HLPR_012209.pdf

[2] Migration Policy Institute, Oregon Fact Sheet. Retrieved on July 31, 2009 from http://www.migrationinformation.org/datahub/state3.cfm?ID=OR

[3] Skaggs, Adam and Blitzer, Jonathan, Brennan Center for Justice. Permanent Voter Registration. Retrieved on June 22, 2009 from http://brennan.3cdn.net/1a1ce9f2a1e87c216a_yjm6iv2uo.pdf

[4] Data provided by Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State, Spring 2009

[5] Green, Donald P. and Gerber, Alan S. (2006) Get Out The Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout, Brookings Institution Press. p. 140-141